State Governors And The Dwindling Economy Narrative By Mukhtar Jarmajo
In the 2015 electoral year, Nigerians sought escape from the hands of the Peoples` Democratic Party (PDP), a political party that since 1999 tirelessly milked Nigeria dry while refusing to place it on the path of development. By more than sheer happenstance, Nigerians collectively placed efforts that saw the All Progressives` Congress (APC) seize power from the PDP, a scenario that rekindled the hope of many Nigerians in the project Nigeria. A year later however, this hope is being gradually dashed by the attitudes and tendencies of many a public office holder who have since May 29th last year been showing very little interest in making any difference from the way the PDP run its government in the past.
Most of Nigeria`s state governors for instance, have demonstrate sheer willingness to continue what we in last elections treated with utter disdain, bad governance that is. In the last one year, most of our state chief executives handled the baton of leadership such that their mediocrity and none readiness to move our states forward has become so conspicuous. Since inception, only few of them can boast of placing any efforts at repositioning our respective states in terms of education, health, pipe borne water, rural electrification, road construction etc.
And the justification for their quite conspicuous failure has been a dwindling economy narrative. The states chief executives hardly miss any opportunity to lament to journalists how they came to power only to inherit empty treasuries. And such are the reasons given for the governors’ ability to watch their states gradually abysmally fail. Indeed this only tells how restive most Nigeria`s state governors are.
Like the restive youth they mostly recruit into political thuggery, most of the governors wait idly for monthly grants from Abuja to run government. It disturbs as well as frightens that despite all their lamentations about the economic challenges we face, only few of the states chief executives care to look inwards to work assiduously to dramatically improve their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR). This could be achieved through further strengthening and repositioning of states Boards of Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) for optimum results. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) system as adopted by the federal government is yet another fruitful way to block leakage points of funds.
And because most of the governors are yet to understand they have a micro economy to manage, only few appear to be serious about creating other avenues for more financial resources. In spite of the vast arable land God blessed this country, only few states have thrown the required weight on the agricultural subsector of Nigeria`s economy. At elementary level, agriculture refers to the cultivation and rearing of animals for the use of man.
Cultivation of crops and rearing of animals create thousands of employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled labor. From the farm to agro-allied industries, a lot of human resources are involved. Therefore once the potentials in the agricultural sector are well harnessed, we will have enough food, get jobs and even go into industrialization. It is critical to note here that no nation develops into industrialization to stabilize its economy without first having food sufficiency. It is worth noting here that what is needed to boost agricultural activities as to attain food sufficiency isn’t rocket science.
All that government needs to do is to make fertilizer available to farmers and provide a ready market such as the defunct Marketing Board to sell farm produce. In plain terms therefore, contrary to the thinking of most of state governors that governments should provide agricultural implements and get investors elsewhere in the world to harness our agricultural potentials, Nigeria has to first place considerable efforts towards agricultural development to attain certain level before expecting foreign investors to come in.
The willingness, however, by many a state governor in this country to continue in the old way has refused to allow them think with conscience and act with humility. Like their predecessors, most of our state governors expend the grants from Abuja recklessly in many cases for personal objectives only to later plead with the masses to exercise more patience as they inherited empty treasuries at a time of dwindling economy.
Today, the governors’ inability to wake up to the reality of the time has seen them reposition our societies from a state of retrogression to a greater state of retrogression. The people live hopelessly in hopelessness surviving in untold hardship. In most of the thirty six states of the federation, governments hardly provide medicines at hospitals, feed boarding school children, maintain water supply, clear refuge and pay salaries of civil servants.
Salaries haven’t been paid for months in many states of this country. And this singular act has brought most of the states down. As I write so many states in Nigeria are down with an ineffective civil service that delivers inefficient services thereby causing latent gradual decay of infrastructures. The civil service is the engine room of government. It operates at the instance of the executive arm of government. It is headed by a Head of civil service who advises the chief executive, in accordance with civil service rules and ethics, on how best to ensure discipline in the service as to optimize results.
The primary function of the civil service is to facilitate the effective and efficient implementation of government policies and programs. It is thus very clear that with an ineffective and inefficient civil service, a government is virtually existent only on the scripts. And one of the major steps towards rendering the civil service and any other organization for that matter lame is to starve workers of their salaries and incentives. Without salaries there cannot be discipline in the service which without government becomes a mere shadow of itself.